One of Olympia’s most beloved police officers is retiring after 36 and a half years on the force.
A packed reception on Monday at City Hall marked the last day on the job for Lt. Bill Wilson, who first reported for duty in 1978 after finishing at the top of his police academy class.
During his time in Olympia, Wilson has held just about every assignment — from detective and SWAT team member to DARE officer, jail manager and the downtown walking patrol.
Several colleagues described Wilson as a tireless and selfless community servant who simply wanted to help people.
Chief Ronnie Roberts presented Wilson with a retirement badge, calling Wilson a consummate professional who fully committed himself to every task.
One career highlight, the chief said, was Wilson’s ground-floor work on what eventually became the downtown Alcohol Impact Area, which banned the sale of high-alcohol drinks. Roberts also praised Wilson’s willingness to speak up and provide honest feedback to officers as well as the chief himself.
“You’re a great role model for the kind of community engagement and involvement that I certainly expect from other people in this department,” Roberts said.
Downtown liaison Brian Wilson said it’s been “a dream” to work at the city with his father, who set an example for public service and hard work that he strives to emulate.
“Meeting all these people he’s had such an impact on in this community has been incredible,” said the younger Wilson. “I’m downtown all the time. I haven’t worked a week here where there hasn’t been multiple business owners asking me, ‘Hey, how’s your dad doing?’”
Wilson’s fondest memories as an officer have involved his work as a liaison for various sectors of Olympia, such as the school district, downtown and the west side. Most recently, he was named a liaison for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, which he said was a career highlight.
Wilson told the audience at City Hall that his personal mission has been to make a positive difference by showing compassion, helping others succeed and striving to build relationships.
“That is who I am, and over the 36 and a half years, that has worked well for me,” said Wilson, adding that he wants to look for volunteer opportunities with the same mission going forward. “It’s going to form the basis of my retirement.”
One of the secrets to Lt. Wilson’s success has been the support of his wife, Gloria. At the conclusion of his remarks, Wilson introduced his wife and said she too is “retiring” from the police department.
“It takes two to tango when you’re in a police family,” said Wilson, who gave his wife a bouquet of flowers. “It’s a tough job and it takes somebody equally tough to be there for you and keep you going.”